Grandpa’s Memory (by: Jennae Haug)

Memories are interesting in that they can so easily be warped. One piece of information, accurate or not, can alter one’s memory forever. This is known as the misinformation effect, which states that misinformation is incorporated into a memory.

My grandpa is a rather hilarious elderly man. The memories he has, whether they were in his childhood or two days ago, can be altered so easily. Although it may be unethical, my roommates and I often have fun with this realization at dinner on Sunday evenings. This past Sunday, my grandfather told a story regarding his time as a car salesman. I remember him selling cars, so it was not unreasonable for me to place my own memory in his. However, the memory I mentioned was nonexistent. As he talked about how he sold his first hybrid, I mentioned that I was there bringing him lunch as the buyer was filling out paperwork. Grandpa continued on with his story, failing to acknowledge my comment. Once he finished his story however, he said, “Oh yes! I remember now! Then Jennae brought me my favorite Subway sandwich!”

My grandpa is affected by the misinformation effect on close to a daily basis. This particular example displays the effect because I was rarely at his work, and I most certainly do not remember being there the moment he sold his first hybrid. Furthermore, I never took him a subway sandwich. Ever. My misleading him with my own false memory subjected him to the misinformation effect as he implemented my memory into his own memory, which is now forever altered.

  1. #1 by Carmen on June 6, 2012 - 6:07 PM

    This example of the misinformation effect with your grandfather is quite entertaining and a great example. It’s frightening how this effect can occur in younger individuals as well as the elderly. As discussed in the book, the misinformation effect has been known to effect eye witnesses who are called to testify in court as well. This is probably why they take statements from every witness to a crime because if they were to recall the scene at a later date, their memory might be manipulated by those around them (as you demonstrated with your grandfather). – Carmen Mowrey

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